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1. TAME IMPALA - Currents
2. RICHARD THOMPSON - Still
3. ALABAMA SHAKES - Sound & Color
4. JAMIE XX - In Colour
5. NEIL YOUNG + PROMISE OF THE REAL - The Monsanto Years

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FEATURED RELEASES

Monday
Aug242015

DRINKS - Hermits On Holiday

"Cate Le Bon wrote some of my favorite words of 2013 on her album Mug Museum. White Fence is the swirly psych music of Tim Presley. Cate and Tim are friends—Cate played guitar on a tour with White Fence—and so now there's this: DRINKS.

DRINKS has an album coming August 21, and the title track is called 'Hermits On Holiday.' The percussion is a machine at the start, the guitar distinctly Cate, as is that thickly Welsh voice. Tim plays bass on this song, though he told me on the phone that they swap instruments a lot on the album. When that bass kicks in, so does White Fence drummer Nick Murray and the song's lockstep rhythm loosens up, as if it's had a drink. The easy joy and silliness here make me look forward to hearing the full album, Hermits On Holiday." - Bob Boilen, NPR

Tuesday
Aug182015

LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX - Press Color

"The lower Manhattan music scene circa the late '70s was a bubbling, effervescent confluence of disco, No Wave, jazz and punk. It birthed the careers of Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Television, the Ramones and even Don Was, whose Was (Not Was) band was also a player. Somewhere on the fringes was Lizzy Mercier Descloux, a French import who used music as just one aspect of her artistic avant-garde arsenal which also included poetry and fashion. This reissue of her off-the-radar ZE label debut didn't make much of a splash upon its 1979 release. Regardless, it has come to be regarded as a charming, evocative curio of a time and place that was fleeting and temporal yet fascinating and influential in its ambitious attempt to join jazz, punk and dance.

Originally only eight selections clocking in at under 30 minutes, this reissue more than doubles that tracklist and is still only 46 minutes long. Extensive liner notes by noted critic/scenester Vivien Goldman in a sumptuous 20-page booklet tell the Descloux story in detail with rare photos and quotes from Smith and Richard Hell, both of whom were friends.

These minimalist pieces—many can't be considered songs—were often improvised in the studio and Descloux, who spoke virtually no English, wasn't exactly a driven vocal talent. Nonetheless, it's the air of cool detached ambiance with mostly sung/spoken vocals over a funk/jazz backing that makes this such a mesmerizing time capsule." - American Songwriter

Monday
Aug172015

VA - Ian Levine's Solid Stax Sensations

"Most people on the soul scene know of Levine's youthful obsession with Motown and Detroit soul in general, and how it led to a 45-year (and counting) career as a tireless promoter of the music he loved as a teenager, whether behind record decks or in more recent times as a successful songwriter-producer. Less well known is the fact that the young Ian was almost as obsessive about Stax, collecting the blue and yellow Stax-era 45s and those on the company's many subsidiaries with the same level of single-minded intensity that he applied to acquiring rare gems on obscure Detroit labels.

I've known Ian since 1969. We met by chance in the Soul City record shop and immediately established a bond of friendship that has continued unbroken ever since. As far as I am concerned, my good friend Ian will always be a man with the most extraordinary passion for soul music, and a lifelong desire to share that passion with others.

Many of Ian's 25 choices are well-known floor-fillers via the extensive play they have received from discerning DJs down the decades, but he's also chosen a pile of lesser-known and equally great sides that deserve to be part of every soul DJ's playlist. Ian's notes fully convey the pleasure he still gets from this music after all this time." - Tony Rounce for Ace Records

Monday
Aug172015

TRIPTIDES - Azur

"Indiana's Triptides have finally washed up in Los Angeles, a much more suitable home away from home for their appealling, bite-sized snacks of hazy summer psychedelia.

The move seems to have helped them shed the last vestiges of their vintage jangle, replacing it with a much more contemporary sheen, which sees them pawning their Byrdsy tendencies in favour of a much shinier, post-eighties jangle influence.

Perhaps it's just me, but I've found that it's almost impossible to listen to
Azur without visualising one of those really colourful multicoloured plastic beach balls. Go and try now. You're back? Hard, wasn't it? 

Azur, simply put, sounds like Real Estate's Days draped over a deck chair with a margerita, which is extremely welcome as we're smack bang in the middle of one of the chilliest cold spells I can remember over here in the New Zealand winter. Given that this hardly constitutes the ideal listening conditions for this album, I'm a little concerned about how obssesed I'd have become with Azur had I been exposed to it in our summer.

There's not a lot more to be said. Short, sharp and irresistable, there's plenty within these songs to keep vintage pop addicts and scenesters alike happy. The always reliable team at Norman Records sum it up perfectly: 'An utterly perfect amalgam of '60s beat pop (The Hollies!) with those moments when Deerhunter decide they are going to be a pop combo.'

I can't top that. The perfect summer record." - The Active Listener

Thursday
Aug132015

JACKSON C. FRANK - The Complete Recordings (3CD)

"The long wait is over. Justice, at long last, is being done. The prophet is no longer without honor in his own country.

The late Jackson C. Frank was announced early this month as a member of the newest group to be honored in the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. The irony is that is not all, not by a long shot.

In October and November, Buffalo is scheduled to be visited by two French documentary filmmakers shooting a doc on this utterly remarkable and utterly tragic musician from Buffalo. But more than that, his hometown will finally have an opportunity to know exactly why he is so revered by folk musicians everywhere but especially in Europe, where his songs were loved and recorded by Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, Bert Jansch and Nick Drake, among many others.

His one album, which included the classic song 'Blues Run the Game' (still sung by folk singers, including by one in the concert honoring the recent movie Inside Llewyn Davis), was produced by Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel before Simon and Garfunkel were cornerstones of their era's folk music. Nevertheless, it has never before been released in America. (Frank later claimed that Simon had stolen 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' from another folk musician.)

Now, finally, courtesy of Frank's crucial biographer and late-life protector Jim Abbott, among others, his complete known recordings have been blessedly been collected on three discs by BaDaBing Records."
- The Buffalo News

Thursday
Aug132015

DEAF WISH - Pain

"When Deaf Wish found themselves in a room together for the very first time, they agreed on a guiding philosophy: 'Let's not make anything that's going to last. If we're together for just two shows, then that's what it is.”

They've deviated some.

Over the course of eight years, the Melbourne foursome—bassist Nick Pratt, drummer Daniel Twomey and guitarists Sarah Hardiman and Jensen Tjhung, with each member contributing vocals—have instead amassed one of rock's most exhilarating bodies of work, a concise run of wooly seven-inches and white-knuckle LPs whose legendary live translation has been most accurately described as 'unhinged.' All this despite their being scattered across multiple continents, with no way of getting to know one another outside of intermittent touring. 'We didn't really know what this band was,' Tjhung says. 'We had something, but it wasn't clear—we had to figure out what that was.'

This year marks the arrival of Pain, the first they’ve written since coming together again semi-permanently in Melbourne, and their appropriately titled first full-length for Sub Pop. (Last October's St. Vincent EP was their proper Sub Pop debut.) It is a miraculously dissonant, wonderfully immediate display of Deaf Wish at their mightiest, alive with the same wild chemistry and sense of possibility that made their first recordings so vital." - Sub Pop

Monday
Aug102015

VA - Kollektion 4: Bureau B compiled by Richard Fearless

"I always listen out for music with a sense a space, where compositions are stripped down to the barest components while retaining the power to conjure emotion. It's for this reason that I'm so drawn to dub, techno and German avant-garde minimalist music. To me the bands and labels in the Bureau B archive, current and past, were looking to distant lands, their own 'Neuland,' whether in the future with bands like YOU and Riechmann, or from a more remote past, like medieval folk band Ougenweide. They were creating something radical and experimental, something that didn't draw on the same rhythm and blues, Anglo-American rock that was saturating the airwaves at the time. They were pioneers in every sense of the word. With all due respect for the music that forged these paths, it was on hearing the mental guitar on Faust's 'Herbstimmung' that I knew to look not only at the so-called golden years of this era, but to look at what these artists were doing later, as well as the new bands that were emerging from those schools. Artists who are still creating, still innovating. I hope you enjoy the journey." - Richard Fearless for Bureau B

Friday
Jul312015

DANIEL ROMANO - If I've Only One Time Askin'

"Daniel Romano's fourth long-player If I've Only One Time Askin' is set for release on New West, the follow-up to his acclaimed 2013 album Come Cry With Me released on New West imprint Normaltown Records. His new album sees Daniel continuing to mine the rich seam of country music traditionalism with a contemporary collection of songs echoing the greatness of Williams, Parsons, Jones and Haggard, but ensuring the music is very much his own with a self-proclaimed genre.

'Mosey music is a study in contrasts,' Romano says. 'There's glitz and grit, reveling and wallowing, wretchedness and showmanship. Mosey music's pioneers wore their battered hearts on sequined sleeves.'

The album was recorded in Daniel's hometown of Welland, Ontario, and self-produced. Amongst the many highlights, there's a lovely collaboration with Caitlin Rose on 'Strange Faces.' For those lamenting the bro-country takeover of the genre, there's much to admire and hang your hat on in Daniel's lyricism, arrangements and neotraditional stylings: classic in every sense of the word." - Beat Surrender

Thursday
Jul302015

DUCKTAILS - St. Catherine

"The thing that you quickly learn about Matt Mondanile while having a conversation with him about contemporary indie music: Dude is friends with everybody. Not just with the underground darlings who actually worked with him on the Real Estate guitarist’s fifth album as Ducktails (St. Catherine, out this week) but Ariel Pink, Mac DeMarco, and just about every other prolific, do-everything studio rat likely to pop up on the year-end list of a publication like ours. It could make Mondanile sound like a name-dropper, but he’s sincere and genuine enough that he comes off more as a likeable guy who’s just really excited about how well his buds are doing and how much awesome music they’re making.

That geniality also filters into St. Catherine, an album that approximates the gentle comfort of a Sunday afternoon, while not ignoring that day’s trepidation about the week ahead. At times explicitly autobiographical, it’s one of Mondanile’s most personal albums—the chorus to 'Headbanging in the Mirror,' for example, details the East-to-West Coast relocation that gives him his current sense of fish-out-of-water anxiety. But, as always, he gets by with a little help from said friends, including experimental singer/songwriter Julia Holter, who provides vocals to 'Church,' and electronic composer James Ferraro, who appears on 'Mirror.'" - SPIN

Monday
Jul272015

AMARA TOURÉ - 1973-1980

"Although already brimming with incredible talent, Amara Touré joining Le Star Band de Dakar in 1958 began the band's meteoric rise to the top. The band quickly became Dakar's number one orchestra, and it cemented the reputation of the Miami nightclub as the hottest spot in the country. The place was packed nightly, and Dakar was boiling. 

Amara Touré's Senegalese adventure lasted for ten years when he received an irrefutable offer and in 1968, joined by a few talented Senegalese musicians, headed to Cameroon and immediately formed the Black and White ensemble. Many live gigs later, and it was time for the first songs to be recorded. A total of three singles were produced between 1973 and 1976. These singles, representing the first six songs on this compilation, fully epitomise and distill the essence of what Touré had learned during his career, his Mandingue roots fused with the Senegalese sound that he had mastered: the perfect foundation for the Touré's Cuban interpretations. 

If Touré's intention was to create the most sensual music ever recorded in Africa, he might very well have reached this goal. The musicians on the recording sound like they are playing in a smokey, poorly lit juke joint, where dark rum was sipped ever so slowly, and the pulse of the music took up a life of its own. How many couples have danced, swayed, and melted together to the distinct sound of Amara Touré? Nobody can say for sure..."
- Analog Africa

Friday
Jul242015

VA - Rastafari: The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83

"Emerging in Jamaica in the 1930s from a period of political and social upheaval, Rastafarianism was not always as synonymous with reggae music as it would go on to become. With reference to Ethiopiathe seat of Emperor Haile Selassie I since 1930first appearing in Jamaican music on Lord Lebby and the Jamaican Calpysonians' 1955 recording 'Etheopia,' it wouldn’t be until the mid '60s and '70s that the Rastafarian faith would dovetail so heavily with the island's emerging reggae sound.

Telling this story from calypso through to ska and roots reggae, Soul Jazz have pulled together a double compilation charting the music of the Rastafari like never before. Pivoting on figurehead master drummer Count Ossie who was the first to bring the deeply spiritual nyabinghi and burro rhythms to popular music (influencing everyone from The Skatalites to Clement Dodd), the compilation also includes music from Johnny Clarke, The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Ras Michael and The Sons of Negus, Bongo Herman and Roy Ashanti of The Congos, alongside many more." - The Vinyl Factory

Monday
Jul202015

MILES DAVIS - Miles Davis at Newport: 1955-1975 - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4 (4CD)

"The fourth volume in the ongoing Miles Davis live Bootleg Series, Miles Davis at Newport: 1955-1975 is a four-disc anthology that brings together all of the legendary trumpeter's live recordings captured at the storied Newport Jazz Festival. Founded by organizer George Wein in 1954, the Newport Jazz Festival grew into one of the premier music festivals in the world, thanks in no small part to Wein's longstanding association with Davis. With Wein's support and famous dedication to encouraging artistic experimentation, Davis would return to the festival throughout the most creatively vital years of his career. Although he first appeared at the festival in 1955, unbilled, ostensibly as part of an all-star group featuring pianist Thelonious Monk and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, it was his star-making rendition of "'Round Midnight" (the microphone buried deep in his trumpet to overcome sound-system issues) that landed him a record deal with Columbia and marked his ascent as one of the most innovative and important figures in music history. Miles Davis at Newport details the association between Davis and the festival, each performance serendipitously documenting his ever-morphing sound, from swinging cool jazz in the '50s to aggressive, free jazz-influenced modal bop in the '60s and finally to funky, acid-soaked fusion in the '70s." - Allmusic

Saturday
Jul182015

EZTV - Calling Out

"EZTV's debut album is a little jewel of decades-soaked power pop, turning the key on Byrdsian jangle and harmonies, filling up the tank at Mitch Easter's Drive-In Studio circa 1985 and rolling on until they land in 2015's lack of guitar pop with effectively facile production warmth. It's full of fine, fresh jangly tunes to pop on while driving around town looking for the best root beer float for that date mate in the passenger seat who might not appreciate the effort." - CMJ

Wednesday
Jul152015

LEON BRIDGES - Coming Home

"It certainly looks as though Texan newcomer Leon Bridges was incubated in some major-label laboratory. Retro soul is some of the most profitable material currently being exported, and the 25-year-old seems precision-engineered, having emerged suddenly in just-so trousers, with a voice that echoes Sam Cooke's. The 10 songs on his debut are unabashedly old-school: romantic, easygoing, some fast, some slow, pitched at a market that seems insatiable when it comes to the comfort of music that harks back to a simpler age.

The truth is stranger. Bridges was pushed into a studio by two members of White Denim, a Texan psych-punk band who had begun hoarding vintage analogue gear. Coming Home was recorded virtually live in a studio thrown together for the purpose.

Bridges's voice comes from his own old soul. 'Better Man' finds him striving to be a better man to his baby. (He loves her better than all those 'Jezebels' lurking 'under perfumed sheets.') Perky with brass and syncopated shimmy, 'Smooth Sailin'' makes the case that Bridges might make a worthy mate. 'Shine,' meanwhile, finds him asking for his transgressions to be forgiven (those Jezebels, at a guess). Every one of these three-minute time capsules is operated with joy and ease, Bridges's nimble way with a vocal melody matched by his band's light touch, a little lag on the beat here, a surprise organ melody there." - The Guardian

Tuesday
Jul142015

THEN & NOW: Toronto Nightlife History - The Stories Of 48 Influential Clubs From 1975-2015

"From award-winning veteran music journalist and DJ Denise Benson comes Then & Now: Toronto Nightlife History, a fascinating, intimate look at four decades of social spaces, dance clubs, and live music venues. Through interviews, research, and enthusiastic feedback from the party people who were there, Benson delves deep behind the scenes to reveal the histories of 48 influential nightlife spaces, and the story of a city that has grown alongside its sounds." - Then And Now Toronto

Friday
Jul102015

NAP EYES - Whine Of The Mystic

"It's rare, in these days of glutted media oversaturation, that you encounter a band or a record that instantly distinguishes itself upon first listen as something singularly voiced, truly clarion. But such is the reaction we in Paradise had when, on a serendipitous tip from The Weather Station, we first listened to Nap Eyes, whom we're proud to announce as our most recent signing (in happy collaboration with You've Changed Records in Canada.)

Hailing from Nova Scotia, Nap Eyes is the greatest band you've never heard, and Whine Of The Mystic is their first full-length album, a brilliant small-batch brew of crooked, literate guitar pop refracted through the gray Halifax rain. Recorded live to tape with no overdubs, it's equal parts shambling and sophisticated, with one eye on the dirt and one trained on the starry firmament, inhabiting a skewed world where odes to NASA and the Earth's magnetic field coexist easily with songs about insomnia and drinking too much.

You need this band in your life. Highly recommended if you like The Only Ones/England's Glory, The Modern Lovers, The Clean, The Verlaines, Nikki Sudden/Jacobites, The Go-Betweens, Bedhead, and all things Lou Reed." - Paradise Of Bachelors

Monday
Jul062015

CARL HALL - You Don't Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-72

"Short of discovering one of his old 45s in a trade store, few were the pathways into the lost legacy of Carl Hall, a four-octave gospel-inspired singer who made a string of glowing turn-of-the-'70s R&B side that simply vanished. Though Hall built a third career in film and on stage—notably appearing in The Wiz and the movie version of Hair—his soul-lifting recordings never hit, and thus remained unissued.

That makes You Don't Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-72 both a badly needed primer and a well-packaged framing moment for Carl Hall's lost vocal genius.

A winning eye for material from Grammy-winning industry legend Jerry Ragovoy (composer of the Irma Thomas/Rolling Stones gem 'Time Is On My Side' and Janis Joplin's 'Piece of My Heart,' and a producer for Bonnie Raitt, Dionne Warwick and Lorraine Ellison) completed the package. Ragovoy was, in fact, the perfect foil, having contributed to countless classic sessions that blended an overt gospel feel with touches of R&B, opera and Broadway. Yet, each time, their collaborations sunk like a rock.

Eventually, of course, Loma Records—the R&B subsidiary of Warner Bros.—would have simply lost interest if it hadn't already gone under entirely. Carl Hall ended up briefly on Atlantic, and though he broadly diversified his songbook (taking on the Beatles' 'The Long And Winding Road,' 'Change With the Seasons' by Elliot Lurie of Looking Glass fame, and The Jefferson Airplane's 'Need Somebody To Love,' all included here), it was again for naught. Atlantic issued a debut single, but none of the rest.

Listening today to You Don't Know Nothing About Love, we find a singer who is at one with the song. Carl Hall gave each performance a charge, unleashing a voice that simply must be heard to be believed." - Something Else Reviews

Monday
Jun222015

KARIN KROG - Don't Just Sing - An Anthology: 1963-1999

"The work of Karin Krog may be unfamiliar to much of the world, but in her native Norway and Scandinavia at large, she's practically a household name. This says much about the local enthusiasm for post-bop jazz but also about the tyranny of distribution: until 1994, Krog's albums weren't available in the USA or UK, meaning three decades of recordings were waiting to be discovered. In theory, until now, she hasn't had any regularly distributed albums in the US or the UK—this is certainly the first one even marketed/promoted in here and in England. With this anthology of her best recordings from 1963 to 1999—curated with Krog’s own input—we hope to set the record straight." - Light In The Attic

Monday
Jun222015

KAMASI WASHINGTON - The Epic (3CD)

"It is probably impossible to discuss Kamasi Washington's new record—all three impressive hours of it—without copping to at least some awareness of two extra-musical truths. The first of these holds that, as a member of the studio wrecking crew that brought Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly into being, this saxophonist-composer is unusually well-poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz. (This past spring's celebration of all things TPAB was sufficiently strong that Billboard even published a well-reported piece that detailed exactly how Lamar's album came to feature so many jazz figures, including Washington.)

The second truth is that jazz could use a few more people with Washington's cachet in the wider world—touring with Snoop Dogg, or putting out albums on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint. Admitting this is not tantamount to saying that jazz is in some unhealthy creative state (it isn't), but rather that the music currently faces an uphill struggle in the marketplace (as it often has).

Given all this, it's something of a gobsmacking paradox to discover what a hip-hop-free zone
 The Epic is, and how enamored of jazz's past it turns out to be. This triple-album set is an extravagant love letter to (among other things): soul jazz, John Coltrane (various periods), and 1970s fusion leaders like Miles Davis and Weather Report." - Pitchfork

Saturday
Jun202015

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD - Faithful

"Had these songs been released in late 1971, when they were originally scheduled, these dozen tracks would have been Dusty Springfield's third Atlantic album. Coming on the heels of 1969's successful Dusty In Memphis and 1970's A Brand New Me, the songwriter/producer Jeff Barry-helmed tracks would have made for a pretty great trilogy. But that never happened.

Springfield decamped for ABC Dunhill leaving these songs in the vaults where they were thought to have vanished or even burned in a fire. Rhino released four on their expanded edition of Dusty In Memphis, but the rest stayed hidden away…until now. Reissue label Real Gone found the missing tunes and sequenced them along with an extra single to recreate the missing album, named after the key word in its opening tune 'I'll Be Faithful.'" - American Songwriter